Cow milk allergy within the spectrum of atopic disorders


Department of Allergy, Royal Children's Hospital, 151 Flemington Road, Parkville, North Melbourne 3052, Australia.


In order to examine the relationship between cow milk allergy (CMA) and atopic disorders in childhood, a consecutive group of 42 infants with IgE mediated CMA was followed for at least 2 years. The incidence of sensitization to common food and inhalant antigens and the development of eczema, asthma, and food allergies was examined for the cohort and compared between patients whose CMA remitted and those with persistent disease. In this cohort the prevalence of eczema was 57%, asthma 69%, egg allergy 67%, peanut allergy 55%, and 83% of infants demonstrated positive skin-prick tests to three or more allergens. At the end of the study CMA had remitted in 13 patients (median age 44 months) whereas in 29 patients it persisted (median age 44 months). Although there was no significant difference in the incidence of eczema or asthma during the study between these two patient groups, the incidence of allergy to egg and peanut butter was significantly greater for children with persistent CMA. Consistent with our hypothesis that children with persistent CMA have a more severe dysregulation of IgE synthesis than those whose disease remits, patients with persistent CMA had a significantly higher incidence of and level of skin sensitivity to inhalant and other dietary allergens. Sensitization to the inhalant allergens Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, cat dander and rye grass was frequently seen in early infancy and increased during the study period. Thus, children with IgE mediated CMA frequently generate IgE responses to multiple dietary and inhalant allergens in infancy and early childhood and develop immediate hypersensitivity to other foods as well as clinical eczema, and asthma.